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I often see a question which is not answerable in its current state because lacking information, lacking definitions etc, and then someone coming in and answering it in the style of "I don't really know what you are asking, but if you are asking about X then the answer is A, if Y and answer is B, etc". Basically speculating about what the actual question is, as opposed to asking the poster to improve the question.

Here is one recent example.

Is there a policy/etiquette with regards to this?

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    $\begingroup$ no real policy, but I suggest not putting too much effort into answering poor questions, as third party feedback may be negative. $\endgroup$ – Will Jagy Feb 8 '17 at 0:35
  • $\begingroup$ Seems to me that giving answers to two questions is twice as good as giving an answer to one question. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Feb 8 '17 at 1:56
  • $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson what I am talking about is giving answers to no question at all $\endgroup$ – Slug Pue Feb 8 '17 at 3:26
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    $\begingroup$ Sometimes it's not exactly clear what someone is asking, but it's perfectly clear that either the person is asking X, or the person is asking Y. What's wrong with answering both of the possible questions? $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Feb 8 '17 at 4:45
  • $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson yes, sometimes, but often times the situation is less clear than that, and still answers happen. $\endgroup$ – quid Feb 8 '17 at 8:50
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    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson "What's wrong with answering both of the possible questions?" I seem to remember that the whole SE system is based on the idea of providing answers to precisely delimited questions. If a post is so vague that one cannot decide if they are asking X or Y, choosing to answer it (rather than, closing it) seems at odds with this approach. Granted, math.SE does not conform to every SE feature, but this would be going one step further away... $\endgroup$ – Did Feb 8 '17 at 10:26
  • $\begingroup$ @Did, in my scenario, the question is (or, questions are) precisely delimited. It's just that it's the answerer doing the delimiting, instead of the questioner. Does it matter? $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Feb 8 '17 at 11:44
  • $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson I am afraid your position is too post-modern for me. "Doing the delimiting"... What does that even mean? $\endgroup$ – Did Feb 8 '17 at 11:48
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    $\begingroup$ @Did, you introduced the phrase, "precisely delimited questions" – you even put it in italics, so I know you know what it means for a question to be delimited. Well, questions don't delimit themselves, do they? Someone has to do the delimiting. Better the questioner than the answerer, but any port in a storm. But without the use of the "delimiting" concept, I'm saying that if OP has made it clear that the question is either X or Y, but not clear which, and the answerer writes, "if the question is X, then the answer is ..., but if the question is Y, then the answer is ..." then [continued] $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Feb 8 '17 at 11:55
  • $\begingroup$ ...[continued] then the SE system has two clear questions, and the answer to each. Does it really matter which of the two people, OP or answerer, made the question clear? $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Feb 8 '17 at 11:56
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    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson A question is precisely delimited if... its author precisely delimited it. If someone reads a question, finds it to be not precisely delimited, and chooses nevertheless to answer another question that they think, for whatever reason, the question should be asking, all this does not make the question one iota more precisely delimited. Re posts that are asking two separate questions, they are explicitely discouraged hence, no, answering them is not in fine a bonus to the site, on the contrary (or, we exit the SE system and choose to function in another system...). To sum up ... $\endgroup$ – Did Feb 8 '17 at 12:10
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    $\begingroup$ ... if a question is unclear, close. And if a question is clear but asking two different questions in one post, close. (Isn't this SE Rules 101? And is the fact that we are discussing the point, even on an SE site which has its specificities, stunning?) $\endgroup$ – Did Feb 8 '17 at 12:14

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